Red Deer County urges government to maintain victim services funding

County joins other groups opposed to using victims services fund money for other uses

Red Deer County has joined the call to preserve a fund for victims of crime.

Recently, the United Conservative government introduced a bill that would expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include specialized police teams, drug treatment courts and the hiring of more Crown prosecutors.

Money for the fund comes from provincial fine surcharges — which were raised to 20 per cent from 15 per cent in the spring — and is meant to help crime victims through financial relief and support programs.

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and several other groups have publicly opposed allowing the fund, which has a $74-million surplus, to be used for other uses.

County Coun. Christine Moore called on council to send a letter ensuring that funding for victim support volunteers is not reduced.

“It is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Moore, of the government’s proposal to use money from the fund for other law enforcement and justice providers.

Moore said the government’s proposed move is “grossly unfair” and the public was not told previously what was intended.

The Alberta Police Based Victim Services Association also strongly opposes the government’s plans.

The surplus was built up by carefully managing the fund, which will be able to provide money for victim services for many years without needing tax dollar contributions, says the group.

To use the fund for other uses “amounts to a raid on a fund that for 30 years has carefully and prudently provided a safe landing for those criminally and brutally treated,” says the association in a letter.

“Association members have already felt impacts of victim funds being redirected for public safety initiatives, as requests for operating funds have been reduced and training dollars all but eliminated.”

County council directed administration to send a letter to the province urging that victim services not see any funding cuts and its operations continue to be supported adequately.

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